President Barack Obama talks on the phone with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to receive an update on Hurricane Matthew, Oct. 8, 2016. The President spoke from his home in Chicago, Ill. Photo by Pete Souza
Welsh celebrities have recorded messages of welcome to US President Barack Obama as he prepares to visit Wales for the Nato summit. Matthew Rhys, Damien Lewis, Katherine Jenkins, Bryn Terfel and Colin Jackson are among those who appear in a video which also features some of Wales’s most famous landmarks. Rhys and Lewis are familiar to US TV audiences as stars of the hit series Brothers & Sisters and Homeland respectively.
President Barack Obama presents a presidential challenge coin to U.S. Air Force Col. Douglas Mellars, accompanied by U.S. Air Force Col. Angela Cadwell, as he arrives at Royal Air Force Station Fairford
Steve Benen: That ought to be interesting: “President Obama will fly to Cleveland hours after the Iowa caucuses for an address on the economy, the White House announced Monday. Obama will travel to the Ohio city aboard Air Force One on Wednesday and will deliver remarks on the economy at Shaker Heights High School. His remarks will come shortly after Hawkeye State voters kick off the 2012 presidential nominating race.”
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband Marcus sing and pray while attending services at the Jubilee Family Church on January 1, 2012 in Oskaloosa, Iowa
Clean Technica: With two years of the Obama administration, almost four times as much clean energy has been put on the grid on public lands as in all the previous 40 years.
All the renewable energy ever permitted on public lands totaled 1,800 MW by the end of 2008. In the last two years, the Department of the Interior has approved 6,600 MW of new projects.
Politicususa: … On October 7th, 1998, Matthew Shepard accepted a ride from Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson … they drove Matthew into the country, tied him to a fence post and beat him severely … they attacked Matthew because he was gay. They left him there in the cold dark, bleeding and unconscious until a cyclist found him, almost 18 hours later. Matthew died from his injuries on October 12th, 1998…
Eleven years after Matthew’s death, President Barack Obama signed into law The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Act … this bill makes it a federal crime to assault people based on their gender, sexual orientation and gender identity … Judy Shepard had visited President Obama in the Oval Office and he had made her a promise that this day would come. By signing The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Act into law, President Obama kept his promise to Matthew’s family.
…. I asked many people to share their memories of Matthew Shepard with me, including Captain Stephen Snyder-Hill … the Army officer who was booed at the Republican debate…
Joshua Snyder-Hill: … A year later I was taken to DC for my first equality event. I was still not out to my family or friends. The one thing I remember most were the people picketing the concert hall cheering Matthew’s death and celebrating it as a victory. I remember all my fear of coming out melted away. I had spent three days in DC seeing nothing but hope and activism until that moment; it was then and there I decided, I had to be part of the fight for equality. Matthew’s death and the energy behind it, made me want to be proud of who I was and show love conquered hate.
Matthew Norman (The UK Independent): He is not the Messiah, but he deserves to sleep easy in his bed, and leave the 3am angst to malevolent midgets like Donald Trump who will never trouble him again
…Obama is said to be a strong player in the tight-aggressive style, which means that he doesn’t play a lot of hands or bluff much; but that when the potential return justifies the risk, he isn’t scared to push all his chips in … This is what he did in Abbottabad…
He bet the lot – his presidency, re-election chances, and place in history … had it gone wrong, Obama would by now have been measured up for the Jimmy Carter One Term Memorial Shroud…
It did not go wrong, and so he finally became the President of the United States of America, rather than President of That Chunk Of America That Doesn’t Regard A Black Man In The Oval Office As The Cleaner Or An Imposter.
… Obama did more than quell the screechings of the wingnuts, chat-show rabble-rousers, the Birthers and those we should term the Placentas (the After-Birthers who have now progressed to post-certificate conspiracy theories to question his legitimacy). He reminded the world why it fell in love with him in the first place.
…People have criticised him for being “professorial” as well as arrogant. They will do so no longer. He pondered for months, studied the research, weighed up the evidence, and reached the right conclusion. This is one cool, tough prof, and the lesson he has taught by example won’t quickly be unlearnt. In asymmetric warfare against a stateless enemy, invading sovereign states and slaughtering civilians is not the way to go. You don’t punish the guilty by killing the innocent. You do so by killing the guilty.
….Let no one hear attempts to share Obama’s credit with Dubya without revulsion. He failed pitifully in this, as in almost every thing else … Obama hasn’t honoured on every promise, nor will. He is not the Messiah, although if the Kool Aid truck has redelivered at last, make mine an octuple. For tempering vengeance with mercy, by refusing to reckon countless civilian lives a price worth paying to safeguard himself, hedeserves to sleep easy in his bed, and leave all the sweaty 3am angst to Donald Trump and the other malevolent midgets who will never trouble him again.
Many people (primarily Republican politicians) objected to the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act last November, for a variety of reasons. The principle opposition to the bill didn’t want sexual orientation added as a protected class.
However the law that Congress passed and President Obama signed did much more than extend federal protection to the victims of crimes committed because of their sexual orientation. It also expanded the scope of the prior 1969 federal hate crimes law, which previously was restricted only to hate crimes committed against victims “engaging in a federally-protected activity, like voting or going to school.”
The Matthew Shepard Act as it has been come to be known also gives the Department of Justice and the FBI “greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue.”
That last point is critical, and we are starting to see the results of increasing federal protections for the victims of these acts of terror.
For one example, consider the case of Ronald Pudder. Pudder committed arson against a small African American church. When confronted by videotape evidence of his actions Pudder confessed his guilt. Evidence that his crime was racially motivated was not hard to find:
The two-count indictment against Pudder was detailed at a news conference Friday with the nation’s top civil rights attorney, Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. He said the government was determined to deter a rash of copycat crimes.
“Hate crimes reflect a cancer of the soul,” Perez said. “They are designed not only to injure the particular victim or victims, but to send a message to the community: a message of fear, an effort to divide communities along racial or religious lines.”
On Monday, Pudder pled guilty as part of a plea bargain in which Federal authorities will seek a sentence of 41-51 months.
Hate crimes do indeed leave scars, whether the crime is the directed against Christians, Jews or Muslims, members of the LGBT community or members of racial or ethnic minorities like this disabled Navaho man who had a swastika burned into his arm with a coat hanger, among other things done to him in Farmington New Mexico.
Federal prosecutors say they were able to bring the case because the 2009 law eliminated a requirement that a victim must be engaged in a federally protected activity, such as voting or attending school, for hate crime charges to be levelled.
In the past many local authorities simply refused to prosecute such violent acts as hate crimes even if their state had an adequate hate crimes law on the books.
Now we don’t have to rely upon local authorities to bring these charges when they are appropriate.
And that, my friends, is progress, small though it may seem to some.
President Obama with Louvon Harris, her sister Betty Byrd Boatner (both sisters of James Byrd, Jr) and Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, after he spoke in honor of the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr, Hate Crimes Prevention Act during a reception at the White House, October 28, 2009